Homemade Italian bread! Crusty on the outside and soft and spongy on the inside, it makes the perfect accompaniment to a hearty bowl of soup, a light salad with vinaigrette or by itself with a pat of real butter. It's easy to make and even makes me look like a gourmet!
Italian Bread (from breadworld.com)
Makes 2 loaves or 4 small loaves.
1-3/4 cups warm water (100 to 110oF)
2 envelopes FLEISCHMANN'S Active Dry Yeast
2 tsp salt
5 to 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Additional flour, optional
Place 1/2 cup warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Add remaining water, salt, and 2 cups flour; blend well. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.
Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll each half to 12-inch circle. Roll up each circle tightly as for jelly roll to make loaf. Pinch seams and ends to seal; taper ends by gently rolling back and forth. Place loaves, seam sides down, on large greased baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 20 to 40 minutes.
Lightly dust loaves with additional flour, if desired. With sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes (1/4 inch deep) across top of each loaf. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes or until done. Remove from sheet; let cool on wire rack.